We have winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the giveaway for the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary: Annie (IG), Betsy (blog), and Cecilia (FB)! And thank you to you all for sharing the beautiful Marian names you have/love/bestowed/heard in real life — I love them all!! Have a great weekend!!

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Reading round-up (including a birth announcement!)

Happy Saturday! There a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you, so I’m putting them all here in this post!

First up, Blythe (whose consultation posted back in October and whose baby was born in March — check out her Instagram @blythefike! [which I can’t link to here for some reason, darn computer]), posted yesterday all about her little guy’s name! I loved the first+middle combo ever since I first saw her announcement on IG, and I love the story of how they chose it! It’s a great example of a great nickname being the tipping point in favor of a name.

This post on the Blessed Is She blog was fun to read: Not-So-Typical Unique Catholic Baby Names. I jumped right to the boy list (for obvious reasons) and was pleasantly surprised by Drexel — I don’t think I’ve ever once thought of Drexel as a first name for a boy or a girl! I also loved the idea of Sully as a nickname for Solanus (Sonny had been my previous go-to, and I’d thought of Solly, but I like Sully even better), and in the comments, someone shared that she knows a little Charlotte, named in honor of JP2, whose nickname is Lola as a nod to Lolek! LOVE IT!

I just read this morning that the Schwandt family, who had thirteen boys and was expecting again, had their baby — another boy!! Congratulations to them!! And the name story is pretty funny!

Adding to our posts on literary names, this article on famous novelists deeply influenced by their Catholic faith is a good resource.

I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did! Have a blessed day! (My 11yo has been saying that to everyone, every day, at home and at school, he’s the sweetest.)

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!

Baby name consultation: Not-popular boy name or Italian girl name for baby no. 3

Allegra and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little bean joins big sibs:

Anthony David (“Anthony is for my late father, who passed away when I was about 3 years old, who in turn was named for St. Anthony of Padua. We are all Italian if that wasn’t clear 😉 My father went by Tony, which I like, but I just don’t see it in my son so he goes by Anthony. He’s also not even 3 yet, so we’ll see. David is my husband’s middle name“)

Giuliana Catherine (“Giuliana was my girl name choice for Anthony. I’ve liked the Italian spellings of the variants of Giulia/na for a while, so no other reasoning than I just like the name. I also (theoretically) like the nicknames for it, except G, but again we just still call her by her full name so far (she’s about 1.5). Catherine is a family name (my maternal grandmother) and one we both liked. For Giuliana’s patron we chose St. Catherine Laboure“)

Such great names! Yes, they’re not unusual, but they’re classic and saintly and so handsome/beautiful. And such great family connections for both of them!

Allegra writes,

For Anthony I never even considered popularity because I wanted to name him after my father, and then around when we had Giuliana I realized just how many Julianna’s there are, and how I accidentally gave both my kids popular names, even though I claim to like unusual ones.

This is the first time we’ve decided not to find out the sex until birth. My husband isn’t as passionate about baby name discussion as I am (huge shock, I’m sure!) so we’ve only had pretty casual conversations so far, but here are some names we have discussed.

For boys:
Luke (my second choice with Anthony, but I dislike how popular it is)
James (not Jim or Jimmy)
Max (for St. Maximilian Kolbe, but we don’t care for Maximus or Maximilian … any other formal name suggestions? I don’t like nicknames as legal names)

We are growing in our love for St. John Paul II as a family, but we aren’t crazy about the actual name, so any way to tie him in would be great. Overall I worry that our boy name ideas are too boring/popular/plain. I like how unusual my name is but I find it harder to come up with stuff for boys that I like without it being so popular.

For girls:
-Margaret (going by Maggie) — This was actually one of my top choices before I even had a due date, maybe before this pregnancy, and then I found out my due date is the feast of St. Margaret of Antioch! We also have a dear family friend Sister Mary Ann (“Aunt Sis”) whose birthday is 7-22 and initials are MAG and who has the nickname Mags or Maggie, so it’s kind of a subtle way to honor her.
-Maria (or other Blessed Mother names). My husband’s grandmother is also named Mary.
-Grace (again popularity concern)
-Thalia (I actually wouldn’t use this, because it feels too Greek and we are so Italian, but I really like it)
-Sabrina was on my list for Giuliana, but I’m not as crazy about it anymore.

Names we can’t use (niece/nephews) are Joseph, Peter, Filomena, and Angelo. Other saints we like (aside from JPII and Kolbe) are St. Thomas Aquinas (not crazy for Thomas), Sts. Therese/Zelie/Louis (but our dog is Zelda, hah), and St. Padre Pio.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Allegra said she would like to have a less popular name, but the names she likes (especially for boys) are more popular than she’d prefer. I thought this post might be helpful, which discusses how the popular names of today aren’t even close to being as popular as the popular names of the past were; this is also great.

I was really interested to see that in 2016, Anthony was no. 30 and Luke was no. 29. Very well matched!

James is also a great name, but I don’t think Allegra will love that it was no. 5 in 2016. It’s funny to me that she said she doesn’t care for Jim or Jimmy, but prefers James, because most of the little boys with James-type names that I know of go by the full James. That said, I do have a friend who named her son James and calls him Jimmy, and there’s a Jim on my 7yo’s basketball team and a Jim in my 3yo’s nursery school class! Jim! I chuckle every time I hear it, because it sounds like such a man’s name to me. Anyway, all that to say, I totally understand that Allegra prefers James to Jim or Jimmy, but Jim/Jimmy are actually a much more unusual choice (but maybe also starting to rise in popularity?).

An idea for James, if Allegra and her hubs liked the idea of a nickname other than Jim/Jimmy, is Jake. Jacob is the Hebrew form of James, so Jake for James has an actual linguistic connection. But then I was thinking how they like St. Maximilian Kolbe, and I thought something like James Kolbe would be very handsome, and would make even more sense of the nickname Jake. (This is assuming that they even like the nickname Jake, which maybe they don’t! And maybe they prefer a Max first name to Kolbe as a middle! So I hope they just ignore these suggestions if that’s the case. 😊 )

As for Max, the formal Max names I know of besides Maximus and Maximilian are Maxim and Maxwell. I have some other ideas for formal names for Max below in my official suggestions as well.

There are several ways to honor St. John Paul that don’t involve using John Paul. His birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles, so any of the names of that family can work: Charles, Carl, Carlo, Karl, Karol for boys and Caroline, Karoline, Karolina for girls. If they use the K spelling, those who are familiar with JP2 would like get it right away, which is fun. I actually really like the idea of Karolina for this family — it’s long and feminine like Giuliana. But I think Carolina is the Italian variant, so maybe they’d prefer that.

His childhood nickname was Lolek, which I believe is a Polish diminutive of Karol, and I’ve seen Lolek used by some families! We even had a discussion of the possibility of Lolek as a nickname of sorts for Luke in this comment; since Allegra has Luke on her list and doesn’t love its popularity, maybe using Lolek as a nickname for Luke will give it that unusualness she hopes for? That same comment suggests Emilia as a nod to JP2, as it was his mom’s name. That could be lovely for this family too! Emilia also has Italian usage! I actually know a super Italian family who named their daughter Emilia because it’s so Italian.

I love the girl names on Allegra’s list, and I’m amazed by all the Margaret/Maggie connections!! It seems like such a great fit for them!! My only thought was, would they like to consider the Italian variant Margarita? Either way, Margaret/Maggie sounds like *the* name for Allegra and her hubs!

Maria, Grace, Teresa are all beautiful, and Thalia and Sabrina surprised me! I like being surprised! I have an idea regarding Thalia in my ideas below.

As for saints Allegra and her hubs like, I have seen boys named Aquinas, and I know one of them goes by Quin. I know they have Teresa on their list, which certainly counts as an honor for St. Therese; I’ve also seen Rose names given in her honor. I could see some Rose names being nice for this family! Rosa and Rosalia are two Italian versions that they might like. Louis for a boy is not popular (no. 289), so they might like to consider it for a first or middle name, or maybe Louisa for a girl? Zelie and Zelda do seem too similar! St. Zelie’s given name was Marie-Azelie, so maybe some version of that instead? Many people say that Azelie is the French for the azalea flower; if they like the azalea idea, maybe they could do an Italian version? The dictionary says the Italian for azalea is azalea, so maybe Maria-Azalea? I love coming up with nicknames formed from the first and middles — Maria-Azalea could be Maizie or Mariza or Malea or Mia …

The blogger Ana Hahn has a Joseph Pio, and I thought putting Pio in the middle was so interesting! It could help “liven up” a first name that Allegra thinks is otherwise too popular/common? Luke Pio? James Pio? Ooh, if they’re into initials, James Pio could be JP, which could also be a nod to JP2!

Alrighty, on to my suggestions. You all know that I start my consultations by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for Allegra, looking up Anthony, Juliana (standing in for Giuliana), Luke, James, Max, Margaret, Maggie, Maria, Grace, Teresa, Talia (standing in for Thalia, which wasn’t as close a match as I’d hoped), and Sabrina. Based on that research, and my own ideas, these are my suggestions for Allegra and her hubs:


(1) Gabriella
So my original first idea here was Caterina, which I was super psyched about and thought it was perfect for this family,* and then I re-read Allegra’s email and saw that Giuliana’s middle name is Catherine! Gah! I’d totally forgotten! So I changed my first suggestion to Gabriella. Though I was very influenced by Giuliana’s name when coming up with girl ideas — the Italian-ness of it makes it hard for me to think of non-Italian names! — and Gabriella certainly fits in with that, I also like that Gabriella isn’t *uber* Italian, I know a bunch of Gabriellas that aren’t Italian. So it might be a really nice way to start moving their girl style away from “super Italian” without it feeling out of place.

*I thought I’d include what I’d written about Caterina, just in case they’re okay using it for a first name even though they already used Catherine as a middle: “When I saw Catherine/Katherine/Kathryn as style matches for Anthony, Margaret, and Teresa, and Kate as a match for Maggie, I thought Caterina (possibly with the nickname Cate) was perfect! St. Catherine of Siena’s name was actually Caterina, as she was Italian, which makes for a really nice saintly connection.”

(2) Natalia
I was so excited when I started looking up the names included in Allegra’s email and discovered that Natalie is a match for Anthony and Natalia for Juliana! I thought Natalia was such a great suggestion for this family, not only because it’s a style match for their older two children, but also because it nicknames neatly and easily to Talia! Like Thalia on Allegra’s list! Perfect!

(3) Chiara
Claire is a match for Luke and Grace, but of course I felt like I had to Italian it up! Chiara is the Italian form, and like with St. Catherine being originally Caterina, St. Clare of Assisi was actually Chiara, so she can be patron. But more recently, there’s Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, who I often see parents naming daughters for — she’s a great, modern patron for a little girl. I did a spotlight on the name here.

(4) Veronica
Veronica’s a match for Anthony, and its long femininity makes it a great sister for Giuliana I think! Such a gorgeous name, and one that I consider exclusively Catholic (though I know it has non-Catholic usage), since she’s never named in the bible but rather her name has come down through tradition. I did a spotlight on it here.

(5) Maristella
This is inspired by the “Maria (or other Blessed Mother names)” on their list, as well as, of course, Giuliana’s Italian-ness. Maristella is from Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” which is rendered as Stella Maris and Maris Stella, which can be used as-is for a girl’s name, but I usually see Maristel(l)a and Stellamaris. Maristella is so lovely!


(1) Michael
I know Allegra said she doesn’t love that the names she likes tend to be fairly popular, and Michael’s one of those names that sounds uber popular because it was the no. 1 boy name for so long. It’s still a top ten name (no. 8 in 2016, less popular than James), but as that article I linked to above shows, it’s not nearly as huge as it was. It’s a style match for Anthony and Maria, but beyond that, I thought it could get them to Max as a nickname. Michael Xavier or Michael Alexander, for example, make the nickname Max really obvious. (Any M name paired with Xavier or Alexander could get them to Max, of course — Matthew comes to mind as another great example.)

(2) Nicholas
Like Natalia, Nicholas is a match for both Anthony and Giuliana! I love that! And its diminutive Cole is a match for Luke. I think Nicholas has that same Italian feel that Anthony has (by which I mean, Anthony and Nicholas can be used by any heritage, but there’s something about them that feels really right on a boy of Italian heritage). As mentioned, Cole could be a nickname, or Nico (which was actually a match for Talia), or of course Nick/Nicky.

(3) Dominic
Dominic also has that Italian feel of Anthony and Nicholas, and like Nicholas can take Nic(o) as a nickname. Or, Dom(my) can work — my dad had a friend Dominick nicknamed Dommy growing up, and I always thought that was really cute.

(4) Nathaniel
Moving away from the Italianate names, Nathaniel is a style match for Giuliana and Nathan for Luke! I like them both, though I like Nathaniel for this family better because its length is nice with Anthony and Giuliana (though of course Luke and James are short and I think they’d go fine too).

(5) Victor
My last idea for Allegra and her hubs is Victor. It’s a match for Anthony and Maria, and is a name I’ve had on my own list for a long time. I wrote about it being a great Jesus name here, and the post I did on nicknames for Victor has always been — and continues to be — my second most-viewed post ever! Every single day I have visitors that reach my blog because of some variation of the search term “nicknames for victor.” Isn’t that crazy?

And those are all my ideas for Allegra and her hubs! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Anthony and Giuliana?

Honoring St. Rita

Are you all as much a fan of St. Rita as I am? Like St. Jude, she’s a patroness of desperate and impossible causes (among other things), and I’ve seen her intercession bring about some pretty amazing, nearly miraculous things, both for myself and for others.

In this consultation from July, the mama said she had a special devotion to St. Rita, to whom she attributed the conception of the baby the consultation was for. If the baby had been a girl, she intended to give her the middle name Pearl, as a nod to St. Rita, whose given name was actually Margherita — the Italian form of Margaret, which means “pearl.” I had another conversation more recently over email with a reader who was looking for ways to honor St. Rita for both girls and boys. So I thought doing a post with some ideas of how to do so would be fun! This is what I came up with for girls

Rita would be the most obvious way of honoring St. Rita — if you gave your daughter the name Rita for either a first or a middle, people who know about saints would think, “She must be named for St. Rita!”

Margaret, Magdalene
Since St. Rita’s given name was Margherita, and Rita a nickname for it, then any of the Margaret names can honor her. And after her husband and sons died, St. Rita joined the Augustinian nuns of St. Mary Magdalene Monastery, so Magdalene could work too.

Like the mama in the July consultation I mentioned above, you could certainly use the name Pearl, since that’s what Margherita means.

In addition to meaning “pearl,” the Italian Margaret variant Margherita is the name for the daisy flower in Italian, and the French Margaret variant Marguerite is the name for the daisy flower in Italian.

St. Rita’s known as St. Rita of Cascia, and I think Cascia would be a pretty cool way to name a little girl after her. I say it KA-shuh, which is similar to established first names Kasia and Cassia.

St. Rita’s full given name was Margherita Lotti, so Lotti could make a cute nod to her, especially since Lottie is a traditional nickname for Charlotte …

… which makes me think that even Charlotte itself could be an unexpected honor name for St. Rita.

For boys, I had a few ideas that I thought could work:

I have loved and shared many times the story julianamama told of the family she knew who named their son Garrett after St. Margaret, and that would work for St. Rita as well.

John, James, Jacob
One of St. Rita’s sons was named Giangiacomo, which is a combination of two names—Gian (a short form of Giovanni=John) and Giacomo (James, Jacob). St. John the Baptist was one of her three patron saints, and when her cause for canonization was being pursued, her story was compiled by an Augustinian priest named Fr. Jacob Carelicci.

Her other son was Paolo, which makes Paul a good option.

When I’m looking to honor a woman in a boy’s name, I often look to her dad’s name for inspiration. St. Rita’s dad was Antonio, so Anthony and its variants could work.

For those looking for something unusual, Pope Urban VIII beatified Rita — one of our regular readers has an Urban!

Pope Leo XIII canonized St. Rita, so a great idea there as well!

Augustine, Nicholas
Not only did St. Rita join the Augustinian nuns, but St. Augustine was one of her three patron saints, so Augustine would be a great possibility. St. Nicholas of Tolentino joined St. John the Baptist and St. Augustine as her third patron saint, so Nicholas works as well.

And those are my ideas! What about all of you? Can you think of any other names that could honor St. Rita?

Faaabulous Brit Catholic baby, and a fun question

One of you wonderful readers sent me the story of the birth of UK Parliament Member Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sixth baby, and then I saw it all over my FB feed! Everyone’s going gaga over this little guy! And for sure it’s because of his amazing name: Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher!


Indeed, Rees-Mogg is Catholic, as his baby’s name proclaims! (Also, as his sister’s name proclaims — Annunziata!) Little Sixtus is also the sixth baby! According to British Baby Names, he joins siblings:

Peter Theodore Alphege
Mary Anne Charlotte Emma
Thomas Wentworth Somerset Dunstan
Anselm Charles Fitzwilliam
Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius

In Rees-Mogg’s announcement on IG he referred to the big sibs as Peter, Mary, Thomas, Anselm, and Alfred, so no double names or interesting nicknames as far as I know. I love seeing Anselm in the first name spot! Congratulations to the whole family!

This all brings me to what I intended to post today — Cat said in a comment a couple of weeks ago:

I’d love to see a post and comments on the most unique or out-there Catholicky Catholic name people have ever used or known a person with that name.”

I would love to know that too! I’m on my way out the door and can’t martial my thoughts to share my own, but I can’t wait to read yours!

A couple Irishy things

I was just reading through some old posts and came upon this one from two years ago — I thought you all might be interested in seeing it again, I love learning things like this! ☘

Sancta Nomina

I watched this video the other day and just died: Americans Try to Pronounce Traditional Irish Names. So true, so funny.

And I meant to post this on St. Paddy’s Day and forgot: Selected entries from “Some Common Words Derived From Christian Names” (in Withycombe):

Biddy: nickname for an Irish-woman, from the prevalence of the name Brigid in Ireland; hence old biddy, an old woman. Also used for calling chickens.

mick(e)y: temper, possibly, like Paddy, from the supposed short temper of the Irish, with whom this is a common name.

Paddy: nickname for Irishman (cf. Biddy).

paddy(whack): a rage, fit of temper. (From the supposed irascibility of the Irish.)

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Birth announcement: Lilianna Mary Grace and Lucia Virginia Rose!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her twin girls have arrived! They have been given the gorgeous, meaningful names … Lilianna Mary Grace and Lucia Virginia Rose!

The mama writes,

I just wanted to let you know that our baby girls were born Monday 9/5/16 via emergency csection. They are 30 weekers so they are still in the NICU, please keep both girls in your prayers.

We chose the names
Lilianna Mary Grace and we call her Lily
Lucia Virginia Rose and we call her Lucy
Lily was 3lb2oz and Lucy was 3lb10oz. If you remember they are our rainbow babies, and I began the pregnancy at the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, everyday, praying a Novena for her intercession. After that each of my doctors appointments ended up on a Marian feast day, which I did not do intentionally. I decided very early that we would give the girls Marian names. During our consultation we discussed that Lucia wasn’t completely Marian but related to Mary. I have since found out that there is an Our Lady of Light and Lucia means light, so it is more Marian than we thought.
The most amazing sign from Our Lady though happened 3 days after they were born when our priest came to give me the anointing of the sick after my csection, he also offered to baptize our girls! On The Feast of the Nativity of Mary our girls were welcomed into the church. It was beautiful.”

Can you believe all the Marian connections!! These girls were covered by her mantle the whole pregnancy, and their amazing names reflect that so beautifully!

After the initial email, I received another update on how they’re doing:

Right now we are just working on getting Lily off oxygen and possibly off her IV tomorrow if she does well. Lucy is still adjusting to eating so we are hoping she starts tolerating her milk soon.”

Please keep these beautiful babies and their family in your prayers!

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and the girls’ handsomely named big brother Erick Bruce III, and happy birthday Lily and Lucy!!


Lilianna Mary Grace in purple hat, Lucia Virginia Rose in gray hat

Lucy is smiling, Lily is cuddling ❤